By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
he House of Representatives recently approved IACP-supported legislation: H.R. 6062, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2012.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG) provides funds to assist states and units of local government in controlling and preventing drug abuse, crime, and violence and improve the criminal justice system. Byrne-JAG is a highly successful program that enjoys broad support within the law enforcement community because of its proven record in helping law enforcement agencies to fight crime effectively.
Under current law, Byrne-JAG is authorized through September 30, 2012. It is one of the IACP’s highest priories to ensure that the program is reauthorized before it is allowed to expire. The IACP will now focus its efforts on getting the legislation passed in the Senate.
The IACP will continue to work for its passage in the Senate.
IACP Testifies on Forensics Reform
In late July, IACP Forensics Cochair Stephanie Stoiloff, senior police bureau commander, Forensic Services Bureau, Miami-Dade Police Department, testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary at a hearing titled “Improving Forensic Science in the Criminal Justice System.”
For more than two years, the IACP, under the leadership of the Forensics Committee, has been working with the Senate Judiciary Committee staff to produce a piece of reform legislation that is beneficial to the law enforcement community. The hearing addressed potential reforms.
In her testimony, Commander Stoiloff stated, “forensic science is not the floundering profession that some may portray it to be. As with any scientific discipline, there is a perpetual need for support, improvement, and advancement. In fact, many of the improvements in forensic science have resulted from the commitment of law enforcement agencies and their executive leadership to sound forensic practices.”
Commander Stoiloff went on to discuss the importance of forensic science to the investigation of a crime and challenges currently confronting the forensic science and law enforcement community. She said, “the first—and greatest—need is funding: the forensic community needs funding to perform the work conducted nationwide every day. The common question asked is ‘How much funding is needed?’ One billion dollars was allocated to address DNA backlogs. That is, $1 billion was allocated for one discipline that still is not able to completely manage the flood of evidence submitted for analysis. The analysis itself is expensive. Have we now put a price on public safety?”
Commander Stoiloff also discussed other needs to improve forensic science. “The forensic community needs strong national leadership with the understanding that one size does not fit all. The needs of federal, state, and local agencies are separate and distinct from each other. Our agencies and their forensic laboratories are at ground zero in the fight on crime. Most of these organizations have higher demands for service and fewer resources available with which to wage that fight.”
Commander Stoiloff ended her testimony by saying, “federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement are utilizing every possible resource to provide public safety. It is our hope that these open discussions will continue, allowing everyone to accomplish the goal of providing the framework and resources necessary to maintain our existing capabilities and develop new technologies for the future.” For more of Commander Stoiloff’s testimony, see http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/12-7-18StoiloffTestimony.pdf.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to work on forensics reform legislation, and the IACP will continue to work with them on this effort.
House Approves IACP-Supported Legislation
The House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 6063, the Child Protection Act of 2012. H.R. 6063 seeks to significantly enhance the ability of state, local, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who engage in child pornography and exploitation crimes.
The bill increases the penalty range from 10 to 20 years for possessing child pornography. The bill also will allow prosecutions for harassing or intimidating a child witness without requiring serious threats or harm.
Finally, the legislation also gives the Department of Justice administrative subpoena powers in assisting states to find sex ofenders.
The IACP will continue to work toward its passage in the Senate.
IACP Legislative Briefing
The IACP will hold its 119th annual conference in San Diego September 29-October 3. The membership-wide legislative briefing will be held in conjunction with the IACP business meeting on Wednesday, October 3, at 9:30 a.m. During this briefing, members will be updated on pertinent legislation and resolutions and have the opportunity to ask questions.
For more information, please contact Meredith Ward, Legislative Representative, WardM@theiacp.org. To register for IACP 2012, please visit http://www.theiacpconference.org. ♦
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "House Approves Byrne-JAG Reauthorization," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 79 (September 2012): 8.